Speaking to Members of the European Parliament today UN Chief Dr. Ban Ki-moon raised the spectre of immigration in Europe.
“As a friend of Europe, I share profound concerns,” he told MEPs, and went on to explain that the story of the 20th Century had been the narrative of winning peace in Europe, but now that the peace was won, the 21st century was about the struggle for “tolerance within”. Dr. Ban then said that integration and equal opportunities for different cultures were never easy but they are profoundly important. People claiming to be liberal “accuse immigrants of violating European values”, but in actuality, the accusers were the violators themselves.
Anyone who has been reading the news in recent months will know that these comments were squarely pointed at the French government and their recent actions towards the Roma. These controversial and by all accounts illegal actions have led to Commissioner Reding likening Sarkozy’s Roma policy to the actions of the Nazis, and have prompted an investigation by the European Union in to their legality. It may also have been inspired by Merkel’s very troubling remarks about multiculturalism. It is almost too predictable that in times of economic turmoil people turn on those at the fringes of society, but I would certainly have hoped that we in Europe had learnt our lessons a long time ago. Dr. Ki-moon’s comments were very welcome by a large section of the parliament today and I hope that both Sarkozy and Merkel will hear them.
Dr Ban’s theme was that the United Nations and the European Union were natural allies. He discussed the various ways in which we can work together to make this a better world, focusing on the Millennium Goals which he believes are in danger of slipping from us. I was particularly encouraged by his declaration that the Global Strategy for women and children is his number one priority, stating that “the hardest to reach people in hardest to reach places” should remain the focus of the UNs energies.